Big Recruiting Weekend For Louisville Basketball

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On Friday coaches boarded planes and began traveling to different parts of the country recruiting talent for the 2015 and 2016 classes as the spring open evaluation period is this weekend. In a press conference early in the week coach Pitino said that they wanted to find 3 guys for the 2015 class who were versatile players and could play multiple positions. Coach Pitino and staff spent Friday and Saturday morning in Dallas at an Adidas event and will spend Saturday night in Sacramento, California at the Nike EYBL event.

Here are some of the guys that Coach Pitino and his staff will be watching this weekend.

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Carlton Bragg
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(Kelly Kline/Adidas)

-Bragg has improved steadily and he has all the physical tools to become a top-five prospect. He is extremely talented and plays with a high motor, and separates himself from his peers. Athletically, he is bouncy with a long frame, and he uses those physical gifts to dominate opponents. His offensive skills have improved, and he has become an even more difficult matchup for opposing forwards. He’s productive and full of potential.

Justin Simon
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-Simon is one of the top emerging guards in the country right now. At 6’4, he is a versatile defender who doesn’t have any one specific position on the court but in high school usually played one of the wing spots. Offensively, Simon does a little bit of everything, he can handle it well, can attack the basket, come off the screen, catch and score.

Chase Jeter
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-Jeter is a productive and hardworking forward. He is force down low and he understands how to use his body inside on the blocks and is not afraid to mix it up. He runs the floor very well in transition which is great in a Pitino system, can finish and has a understanding of rebounding on both ends.

Allonzo Trier
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-Trier is a physical, scoring guard, he can drain deep jump shots off the bounce, attacks the rim with a vengeance, and does a good job of getting his teammates involved as well. This kid is rising fast among the ranks.

Ray Smith
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-Smith is a talented and versatile wing who can do just about everything. He can handle the ball in the open court, knock in shots and his overall athleticism is impressive. He has a reputation as a guy who tends to play in spurts, but is a high-IQ player.

Antonio Blakeney
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-Blakeney is a true shooting guard who scores at all three levels (at the rim, from mid-range and from 3-point range. He is described as a player with a take-no-prisoners scoring mentality. The Cardinals have been in on him for a while and I would guess he may just end up in Louisville.

Isaiah Briscoe
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-Briscoe has an unorthodox attacking style and a unique ability to make tough shots that make him virtually unguardable at times. He creates scoring opportunities on demand for both himself and his teammates.

Ivan Rabb
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-Rabb is a long, very athletic forward with an outstanding motor. He rebounds in and out of his area, blocks shots on or away from the ball and finishes above the rim with an quick explosive bounce. He is described as a player who’s skill has developed at a rapid pace. Crazy upside.

Stephen Zimmerman
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-Zimmerman is extremely skilled and his IQ for the game is impressive. He is one big and talented lefty. And talk about versatile big men he can score at the rim, drop long jump shots, or take his man off-the-dribble. He is probably the most skilled and productive big in the Class of 2015.

Deng Adel
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-Deng is a under the radar kid from Australia who played at Victory Rock Prep School in Florida this past season and is playing for the Florida Elite AAU team this summer. At 6-7 he is described as a player that has the size of a forward and the skills of a guard. He does have a 33-inch vertical leap and 6-foot-10 wingspan. He excels in transition, attacks the basket with either hand, finishes aggressively above the rim, and has a jump shot that keeps defenders honest. Scouts say that his jumper might actually be his trademark. He’s got a really nice mid-range game, strokes the 3-ball with ease, and he’s been compared to the most is Kevin Durant. I would mind seeing this guy in a Cardinal uniform and if you take the time to do some research on this kid you’ll see he’s got the kind of character that fits the mold.

Chieck Diallo
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(Under Armour/Kelly Kline)

-Diallo has been described as a player with a high motor who plays with the energy, effort and competes on a consistent basis. He influences the game with his defense as a physical presence, shot-blocker and rebounder in the paint. He runs the floor to finish a play, contest a shot or grab a loose ball. On offense he finishes well down low.

Daniel Giddens
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-Giddens has been described as an eraser inside. He is big, long and athletic. Scouts say he’s a player that needs to continue to hone his offensive skills. His defense and rebounding are what is getting him noticed right now. With a rare combination of fluidity and athleticism on a tall, skinny frame, Giddens is a major prospect.

Ray Spalding
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-Spalding is a Louisville kid who plays for Trinity. He is a true face up 4 that can not only play around the rim and use his size and length, but also put the ball on the floor and show a nice mid range game both off the dribble and off a screen. His stock has been on the rise. Would be great to keep this kid in Louisville.

Alex Owens
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-Owens is a tough, competitive, physical and versatile powerful forward. He is a tremendous rebounder on both ends of the floor. He has excellent knack and quickness to the ball. He blocks shots in and out of his area as well. He can face and knock down the 15 footer in addition to having the ability drive to the basket. He committed to UFC but then backed out.

Bryant Crawford
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-Crawford is a high-level point guard who wants to make his teammates better by handing out assists. His desire to share the basketball is what makes him stand out from the rest. He has change of speed on his drives and explosiveness at the rim, and can knock down the three.

Kevin Dorsey
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-Dorsey is extremely assertive on both ends of the floor, looking to make plays offensively and also shows high energy on defense. He is described as a guy who plays the right way, distributing the ball and running his team in a way that would translate to a college setting.

Josh Reaves
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-Reaves is a player who shows off his skills by maneuvering through traffic with sound ball-handling and finishing with a soft jump shot. He is described as a player that does all of the little things right and has great court awareness.

Justin Robinson
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-Robinson is described as a sturdy and efficient PG who makes quick friends with the big men on his teams thanks to his ability to feed the post. With all of the big guys on the Louisville roster now would be a good time to have a guy like Robinson.

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos-2016

Tyus Battle
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-Tyus is described as a good ball-handler and decision-maker, showing an ability to get into the teeth of the defense and use his size to both score and pass over smaller defenders. He is a player who is comfortable asserting himself vocally and showing leadership skills.

There’s a really good chance that there are a few future Cardinals in this group. I thought I’d compile a list of these guys so that you can reference it when you hear their names.

There is a lot of big time talent on this list and they are being pursued by a lot of major college programs. It will help that Louisville’s new recruiting ace Kenny Johnson will be out this weekend recruiting for the Cardinals. This was a home run hire for Coach Pitino and there is no doubt it will have an immediate impact starting this weekend.

Kevin Ware Leaves Louisville Sunday

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It wasn’t always perfect and his time at Louisville had its rough patches, but in the end he did have a positive impact on the program and the city of Louisville. His perseverance through one of the most gruesome injuries in the history of sports served as an inspiration to not only his team, but for people all over the country.

His drama played out to a national audience and he was embraced by so many folks and even the President of the United States became involved. Kevin has served as a great ambassador over the past year and has give back to the city and those that stood behind him.

Kevin made his announcement a few weeks ago that he would be attending Georgia State University. Kevin has said that his family needs him right now and he wanted to be at home. In an interview at the Derby Festival Classic he said that he will be officially leaving Louisville Sunday. I hope that Kevin has all the success he deserves in his future. And he will always be a Cardinal. L1C4

Rick Bozich speaks with Kevin Ware about leaving Louisville:

A MonsTREZL Gesture

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It has been a pretty eventful week here in the Cardinal Nation. We got news on Monday that Montrezl Harrell would return for his junior season. Montrezl is another in a long line of recent players that really get the concept of belonging to a community. He considers himself not only a player for the University of Louisville, but has become a member of the Cardinal family. On Wednesday Montrezl did something pretty amazing and gave back to that community.

9-year-old Cruz Colvin is a Louisville boy who is fighting long odds for a bone marrow match. So far his doctors have found just one potential matching donor out of 14 million bone marrow donors. The Louisville third graders family and friends are recruiting the public to be potential donors especially the Hispanic community. On Wednesday Montrezl not only took the time to sign an autograph for Cruz but he also took the time to join the National Bone Marrow Registry.

What an awesome gesture from this awesome young man. Folks we have been really blessed with some outstanding athletes coming through the program over the last few years. At the end of the day making a difference in people’s lives is what matters most. Our student athletes are winning on the field of play and in life. Way to go Montrezl! If you would like to follow Trez’s awesome gesture and get on the donor list just click on the hyper link in the article for more information. You may be able to help Cruz.

Three Louisville Signees Headline Derby Festival Classic

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Louisville 2014 signees Quentin Snider, Chinanu Onuaku and Jaylen Johnson will headline the Derby Festival Classic for Louisville fans in the annual event held at Freedom Hall this Friday, April 18 at 7:00 p.m. Each of these guys had great senior seasons and will be entering the Louisville program with high praise.

Quentin Snider leaves Ballard High School as their all-time leading scorer and was named Mr Basketball in the state of Kentucky. Jaylen Johnson was named a Mr Basketball finalist in Michigan. The senior at Ypsilanti Michigan High School averaged 13.1 points, 9.5 rebounds, and 4.5 blocked shots a game. He had 8 double-doubles this season. Chinanu Onuaku, won a Maryland private school championship and was named MVP of the state tournament this season. All of these guys are winners and know what it takes to be champions. That seems to be a theme as of late with Louisville basketball recruiting and the future looks very bright.

Some of the nation’s finest high school basketball talent takes the court at the Kentucky Derby Festival Basketball Classic. First held in 1973, the Classic is the oldest high school all-star game in the nation and is known for showcasing players who’ve moved on to stardom at the collegiate and professional levels. Former players include Jamal Mashburn, Moses Malone, Rex Chapman, Pervis Ellison, Isiah Thomas, Dominique Wilkins, Darrell Griffith, Derek Anderson, Anfernee Hardaway and Michael Beasley.

For tickets call (800) 745-3000 or the Freedom Hall box office at (502) 367-5144. If you can’t make it to the game Good news for Derby Classic Fans: will livestream the game Friday night at 7.

Try to make it out to support our future Cards!

Another Year Of “Enthusiasm Personified”

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Back last summer during a basketball game that Montrezl Harrell was playing in for the U-19 USA team (where he won gold) the announcer of the game used “Enthusiasm Personified” to describe Montrezl on a basketball court. I haven’t heard anything better to describe what he does on a basketball floor since. In my 30 plus years of watching college basketball I haven’t seen anyone with a motor like he has. Today an ordinary Monday became an extraordinary one when Montrezl tweeted out the he was bringing his “Enthusiasm Personified” back to Louisville for his Junior season.

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Coming into his college career some thought he would be in position limbo, but with Pitino’s style of play and his physical growth he has become a nightmare match-up for a small forward and a unique match-up for a bigger guy. He has shown in just the last couple of years that he is developing his game more in the post and also improving his ball skills. All the while taking advantage of the most high percentage shot in the game of basketball, “The Slam Dunk”. This kid has all the raw materials and when he plays he goes hard, real hard “Enthusiasm Personified”. With that Enthusiasm Montrezl has soared to the top of the dunk record books and now resides with the likes of “The Doctors of Dunk”, “Dr. Dunkenstein” and many more who have rocked the rim during their time as Cardinals.

The announcement of his return will all but guarantee that Louisville will have a new dunk leader after next season and it makes our Cardinals a legit contender for the National Title again next season. In a day where kids are leaving school early for that quick paycheck Louisville players have become the standard for doing just the opposite. It is great to see kids be able to embrace the college sports life and it’s great to see them really live the Louisville First, Cardinals Forever motto. Today’s announcement again proves that it’s not just words we speak but has become something real.

I don’t really know how you thank someone for turning down millions of dollars to play for your favorite college team, but I guess it would look something like this:

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Thank you for coming back for one more run Montrezl!.. Can’t wait to see you dominate the front-court in the ACC next season. L1C4..! Go Cards!

-Montrezl Harrell talks about his decision to come back:

Montrezl Harrell “A Year In Dunks”

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(Photo “The Intimidator” by TJ Parks)

We all watched this past season as Montrezl dunked his way into the Louisville record books. It’s been a while since we’ve seen a player go to the basket so aggressively and I enjoyed ever minute of it. Most speculate that Montrezl will take his dunks to the league next season, but it would really be nice if he’d give us one more year of “Enthusiasm Personified”.

Until then for our viewing pleasure Every Montrezl Harrell Dunk of the 2013-14 Season (HD)
By TheLouisvilleShow:

Never Too Early To Look Ahead

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So the college basketball season is over and it’s never to early to look towards next season. The Cardinals have a very good recruiting class coming in next season and maybe one of Coach Pitino’s best hauls since becoming the Louisville head man. It is considered #4 by ESPN, #9 by 247Sports, #8 by Scout, #7 by Rivals and he has done a very good job at addressing all the needs in this next group. He’s got a great back-court duo with Shaqquan Aaron, and Quentin Snider. Aaron has tremendous playmaking and scoring ability at 6-8. He could end up the biggest star of the group. Snider is also a great scorer and has a lot of ability. He will be one of those long term impact players that Louisville fans have grown accustomed to.

This group will also feature some great long term impact players in the front-court with Jaylen Johnson and Chinanu Onuaku. These guys fit Coach Pitino’s system ideally. Onuaku has rapidly improved and is very skilled for a big man. Once he drops some weight, he will make a big impact. Johnson brings a lot of intangibles to the team, and is a great baseline player. Then we have the twin towers with 7-foot-2 Matz Stockman and 7-foot-1 Anas Osama Mahmoud. These guys are a bit of a mystery to most people on the left side of the Atlantic, but apparently, they are loaded with potential. You can’t teach size and these guys have that.

We have a solid group of guys coming back next year as well. In the back-court we will have Chris Jones, Terry Rozier and Anton Gill getting most of the minutes. Jones improved drastically towards the end of this season and once he became more accustomed to coach Pitino’s system was a different player. That will only get better as he has another summer to adapt. Terry Rozier will be a star in his sophomore season. This guy is gonna make some noise in college basketball and the ACC. Anton Gill will be another major contributor on the offensive end of the floor, but will have to get the defense down. Returning is also the next Tim Henderson spark plug off the bench in David Levitch. He is gonna hit some big shots before he is done, and is a great kid to cheer for.

With the news of Co-Captain Montrezl Harrell returning it adds even more depth in the Louisville front-court and I don’t need to tell you what kind of impact he will make next season. He makes the Cardinals a legitimate contender for another National Title run. Not that they wouldn’t have been anyway but Montrezl guarantees it. Having this much depth in the front-court will also give the young guys more time to develop and get comfortable with the college game. The Cards will also have Wayne Blackshear, Mango Mathiang and Akoy Agau returning. Wayne is a real big question mark at this point in my opinion. Will he finally breakout and be the 5* All-American we have expected since he arrived? Your guess is as good as mine, but I’m behind him 100%, and being a team captain next season may help his confidence also. Mango is the most promising of this group and his upside and potential is off the charts. If he adds the weight this summer he’s going to have a huge year, and be a beast in the middle of that Pitino defense with his shot blocking ability. I have confidence that Akoy will get some solid minutes next year also. He is a skilled guy. He just needs to keep his attitude positive.

Some of the different sports sites and talking heads have already came out with their early top 25 rankings:

-Dan Hanner #14

-Jon Rothstein CBS Sports/Louisville #11

-Athlon Sports/Louisvill #14

-CBS #21

-NBC Unranked

-Bleacher Report/ Louisville #21 #12

I look for these rankings to be adjusted with the news of Harrell’s return. My guess is that Louisville will be firmly in the top 10 of every pre-season ranking. We could possibly crack the top 5 in some of them also.

This season has shown us all that it’s really hard to predict how a season will turn out, but I know I’m looking forward to it. It will be fun to see how all the new guys mold with the returning guys and how the returning guys step up to fill the shoes of those that left the program in such great shape. See you in 2014-15 Cardinal Fans..

Cards Will Renew Old Rivalry At Jimmy V Classic

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The Jimmy V Classic is one of my favorite events of the college basketball season. No Championship is on the line, and no tournament berths are at stake. Instead, the basketball world comes together for one night to celebrate the life of one its own, and help to save the lives of many more. It is rare that there is a charity where 100% of everything you contribute goes to research and the Jimmy V Foundation does just that. They received an endowment which allows them to give all of the donations to fight against cancer, not to pay bills. As I am sure is the case with many of you, a lot of people I know have been touched by cancer including my family. Some have fought and won, others have fought and lost. I hope for a day when we can eliminate the second group and everyone fights and wins. The Jimmy V Classic has been played since 1995.

Today Per ESPN, the Indiana-Louisville game for Jimmy V Classic will be the 2nd game of night at 9:00 on December 9th at MSG in NYC. The game will be on ESPN and follows Villanova vs Maryland. The last time the Cards were in this event was back in 2006. That was a time when Louisville’s luck wasn’t as good in The Garden as it is nowadays. They played Arizona in their first and only appearance in the Classic losing that game 72-65.

I’m looking forward to this old rivalry being renewed when Louisville makes its return to MSG for the V Classic. The Cards and Hoosiers will do battle for the first time since playing a game on February 1st 2003. It was the Cards that came out victorious in that game 95-76. The game will mark the 17th meeting between the two schools in history with IU holding a 10-6 advantage. The teams have met three times since 1990 with IU holding a 3-1 edge in those games. The game is not part of an ongoing series but is instead a one-game contract between the two schools. Coach Pitino has been working hard to get a home and home series with the Hoosiers but that hasn’t came about yet. Let’s all hope that the game on December 9th will spark up the old feud enough to make this a annual meeting.

With this news today Louisville’s non-conference slate for the 2014 season is looking like its going to be loaded. They are set to open up next season with a game against Pitino Jr’s squad Minnesota in Perto Rico, then the game against IU, Kentucky and the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Yup Louisville college basketball 2014 is shaping up to be an exciting time indeed.

The End Of An Era

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Some college sports fans live a lifetime without getting to see their beloved team reach the pinnacle. For 25 years I was starting to think that I may never get to watch my Louisville Cardinals win a National Championship, but in the last four years I got to see that and so much more.

I got to watch great young men lay it on the line for their university, their fans and their city every time they took the floor. I got to watch young men start at the bottom and work their way to legendary status and I got to watch a basketball program transcend into greatness. I’ve enjoyed moments over the last four years that I will hold onto for the rest of my life. I am so grateful for that and words can’t express the gratitude that I feel.

This past weekend was such a low point for me and I have grieved and sulked since walking out of Lucas Oil Stadium. But when I took away the part where we lost to our arch rival it allowed me to put things in perspective. What a great ride we have been on as Louisville Basketball fans and while it is the end of an era those who leave it behind have done so at a level much greater than when they got here. Isn’t that what it’s all about? The group of guys who wore the uniform the last four years have set a new standard for the ones coming in next to maintain. As a fan I have learned that it’s not where you start, but where you finish. It is the End of an Era, but the start of another. I can’t wait to see what the next one holds.

An awesome video was just put out today and it captures a lot of those great moments and really put a big smile on my face today. Hope it does the same for you:

Louisville Basketball- “The End Of An Era”
ByEvan Westendorf